Vitaeoth, the Wounded
Leave the World Better Than How We Found It
Elves of Vitaeoth
Of all who would call themselves the "civilized" citizens of Vitaeoth, the elves have had some of the most subtle yet profound effects on the world. It is a commonly accepted fact that the elves have been living on Vitaeoth longer than any other race, their kingdom in the forests enduring for millennia while the rest of the races were learning to use tools. The long-lived people of the Green Realm are closely associated with the wood and water elements, mastering both the forests and the seas long before any other races began to see the potential powers of the world around them. From their verdant capital of Wynsylus, they grew outwards, setting roots across the world.
People of Vitaeoth know the elven people as cultivators. The elves are the ones who taught most other races how to use languages, grow food, build shelter, and even read and write. The Common language used for trade and national communication is actually an offshoot of the elven language. The elves pride themselves as teachers and parental figures for the world, hoping to plant the seeds of growth and nurture them until they grow into something beautiful.
These are best case scenarios, however. Most non-elf races begin to roll their eyes when an elf offers to correct someone's trivia or explain how to perform a task. Everyone knows that, thanks to an elf's long life, they often pick up many skills and vast collections of knowledge. Elves truly are people worth turning to for advice, but many are loathe to do so out of pride.
Thanks to the elves, however, humans, halflings, gnomes, and some orc and beastkin tribes have been catapulted forward in their social progress. Much of the culture, art, and infrastructure of today is partly thanks to the elves. This may explain why so many feel the elves should butt out already.
|Most elves of Vitaeoth…|
|…know a bit of magic (usually water and wood magic).|
|…desire to teach or help others.|
|…don't understand the need for high technology.|
|…subconsciously see non-elves as growing children.|
|…like to create, whether through art or a trade.|
|…are endlessly patient, but merciless when patience has run out.|
The elves are a striking people, to say the least.
They tower at least 6 feet in adulthood, usually reaching 7 and a half feet, and have slender builds. Their eyes are larger than most races, with wide eyes and pupils that are good for seeing finer details in the dark. Their slender builds hide a wiry muscle structure that makes them tougher than most expect at first glance. Their long and strong legs carry them very swiftly, swift enough to outrun any shorter-legged peoples. Their smooth hair usually grows long, but they don't all wear it long.
Despite their somewhat imposing silhouettes, most people find the elves to be attractive, and their natural beauty has inspired many a work of art or baudy tale. For their part, the elves are often fascinated by the severity and passion with which other, shorter-lived, races carry out their lives. This leads many elves to meet and have children with other races, meaning that elf blood runs in more multiracial people than other races.
Curiously enough, they seem to develop slight physical differences in their appearances after spending a century or so in a new region. Usually these slight changes match the flora where they live, or represent the lack of such life. Elves who live near larger and thicker trees grow thicker builds, while some are thin like willows or palm trees. Their hair, skin, and eyes tend to take on the color of the local flora, usually taking earthen tones but becoming more exotic colors if they live in places like rainforests or jungles (often more than one color). Elves usually accent their hairstyles with flowers, tree branches, or coral if they live in a coastal settlement.
These unique builds and characteristics have led to several separate ethnicities of elves: the wood-elves, the sea-elves, and the sun-elves. Wood elves are the ethnicity that most people think of when they hear the word "elf", a tall and fair-skinned elf that lives in one of the many forests of Vitaeoth. Sea elves are elves who live on coasts and have developed tan skin, thin hair, longer limbs for swimming, and a considerable ability to hold their breath. Sun elves are elves who have chosen to live in places near deserts or in jungles, developing dark skin to absorb sunlight, and dark hair. All of these ethnicities have contact with each other, and while they typically have much in common they have established their own cultural nuances.
Elves are known as educators, diplomats, creators, and naturalists. It is a common cultural theme for elves to make the world better for the future, as they have to live that future sooner than they think!
Elves are not particularly advanced in terms of technology, preferring to perform their daily duties with simple tools or magic. While they have grasped engineering, it is an uncommon practice in most elven settlements. There is call by some elves to improve technology within the elven kingdoms, but many fear what cost this industry may come at. They know that gnomish factories often produce waste, and because the elves have no idea how to properly dispose of this kind of waste they usually import objects of advanced technological persuasion rather than craft their own. Farming equipment is not always needed thanks to the elves' magical agricultural techniques, and clever magical defenses keep their realms safe. Transportation is also usually handled by beast teachers, who are always swift to correct anyone who refers to them as "beast tamers". Clean water can be obtained from untainted natural sources and spells, and medicine is augmented heavily through magic. Some think that a long history of life magic contributes to their long lives.
Because of the heavy reliance on magic and simple tools, most elves would have little idea what to do with anything as complicated as a winding mechanism. Some joke that now the other races could teach the elves a thing or two about the world they thought they were shaping.
Education is an important pillar of the elven society. An informed populace not only defends itself better, but makes more informed decisions when coming across a crisis. Elven settlements usually include a small schoolhouse or a larger place of learning where several educators live and teach students of all ages. History, natural sciences, medicine, music, and agriculture are usually all taught, as well as more exotic topics like magical understanding and training. Even non-elven settlements might have a small building that is dedicated to learning. This can be a small house that an elf lives in with a library for the curious or as big as a guild house with multiple educators on staff. Many places of learning throughout the world employ elves as professors or educators, particularly when teaching about magic, medicine, or the natural world. This network of teaching is called the Collective of Cultivators, usually just called the Gardeners.
Diplomacy is an area where many elves excel. Communication skills are usually taught in Collective-allied institutions, and it has served the elves quite well in their dealings with others. Since others often see them with a bit of disdain, and many elves are rather proud of their heritage and cultural identity, it has only become more and more important if elves wish to work with others not of their kind. Because of this, most nations have good relations with Wynsylus, and elves find themselves entering social circles more easily than might otherwise be possible. This has been used for diplomacy just as much as it has been abused for extortion and treachery. Elven courts are difficult to navigate for outsiders, as if walking through a maze of mirrors. It can be tricky to talk down an elf.
The elven eye for detail means that their crafts are valued by other races for their beauty, if not necessarily for their durability or strength. Most elven crafts come from woodworking, leatherworking, shipbuilding, bonecraft, and other trades that use organic materials. The elves' patience also means that orders may be filled out slowly, if elegantly. Procuring the resources for these trades is always a difficult dilemma for the elves, as they idolize the power of nature and find it absurd that they should package and sell objects that were once living things. Nevertheless, these things earn the elves valuable income, but have ended up creating an ideological divide between those who have magic and provide through their talents and those who have no other choice but to take up a craft to survive.
They take care to leave little trace in the environment, having an immense respect for their surroundings. Even barren land can be given life with the right spells or agricultural techniques, elves try to nurture their surroundings like their own children.
The cultural heritage of nurturing the world around them lends elves to the job of adventuring in order to leave a good mark on the world. Plenty of elves leave their homes in search of ways to leave the world a better place, whether that means teaching in foreign lands, slaying destructive monsters, or representing their country through the courts.
Many elven adventurers join the Gardeners, who have expanded in recent years beyond simply education. It has become a mission for them to better the world in whatever ways are available, whether by word or weapon. The Gardeners now teach educational tools alongside self-defense, meaning that many elven adventurers are members of the Gardeners as well.
The Secret of the Dark
There exists another race of elves, a strange and worrying secret in the shadows of Wynsylus. Grey elves, who call themselves the Svartalfar, are an enigma to all, save for the leaders of Vitaeoth's elves. Though they physically resemble elves, they are anything but elves in action. Their skin is a smooth monotone grey, and their eyes have a silver color that reflects light. Their hair usually takes on monochrome colors, from black to white and every grey in between (often more than one). Elves of Vitaeoth despise these strange counterparts, and often are immediately and desperately hostile, like a cornered animal. The elves also refuse to speak of these dark cousins, going so far as to deny their existence or even kidnap those who know about them in extreme cases.